It looks like Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson will soon make his candidacy for the U.S. Senate formal. Without knowing much about feller Ron Johnson, I predict he has as good a chance as anybody to win the GOP nomination.
He apparently has money, which unfortunately often translates into legitimacy in politics. The parties love a guy with money, not only because he can contribute to his own campaign, but because it relieves them from some fundraising duties, especially in a race against Feingold, who may be vulnerable but certainly is not worth the GOP attention that the governor's race or the two House races up North deserve. He's still the favorite by a long-shot.
But money has become so important in politics that the media and the voters have begun paying a great deal of attention to it as well. I would guess this is especially true of primary voters, who are more politically educated than general election voters. They may be more ideologically extreme, but they also care more about the long-term strategy of their party, and they want to field a viable candidate who has a chance of winning. A rich candidate will appeal to their sense of pragmatism.
In addition, more than the other candidates, Johnson is from a Republican-rich part of the state. The Fox Valley is not the GOP haven that Waukesha is, and it has become more Democratic in recent years, but it still has a bigger population of committed Republicans than Chippewa Falls, Watertown or Madison. As an Oshkosh businessman, Johnson might even have a good network of business contacts to tap into for contributions in the area.
Last but not least, Johnson doesn't have any ideological question marks on his record. He has not served in a Democratic administration or headlined a fundraiser for Democratic candidates, and he has not made any contributions to Democrats in the past, unlike Terrence Wall. Johnson actually spoke at the Tea Party rally, unlike Wall or Westlake, and he can apparently give an OK speech. All you have to do is read a few conservative blogs to discover that many conservatives feel the current primary field is neutered, and desperately in need of some right wing testosterone.